Addison Russell Slammed the Cubs into Game Seven

Pete Hodges presents our Game Six World Series recap in which the Chicago Cubs evened the series thanks to an Addison Russell grand slam.

The World Series shifted back to Cleveland for Game Six, as the Chicago Cubs fought to keep their dreams alive and the Indians hoped to close out a series win. The starting pitching matchup wasn’t exactly one for the ages, as reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta took the hill for the Cubs and Cleveland tapped Josh Tomlin – a right-hander who is best-suited eating innings at the back of a rotation or as a long man in a bullpen instead of starting Game Six of the World Series.

Tomlin opened the first by quickly retiring Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber – the designated hitter who Joe Maddon moved up in the order after he sat out Games Three through Five. Cleveland’s starter then got ahead of Kris Bryant in the count when he hung an 0-2 curveball – and this happened:

Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist kept the pressure on with consecutive – near identical – base hits following Bryant’s blast. Addison Russell then lifted a fly ball to right-center field that should have been a routine out, but something went amiss between center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall. Traditionally, any ball hit in a shared area – which this ball was – is the center fielder’s call, but Chisenhall came barrelling in hard from right and cut in front of Naquin, before pulling up. Naquin adjusted his course to avoid the charging Chisenhall, believing he was going to collide with the right fielder, resulting in a disaster. Avoiding the collision allowed the ball to drop though, and the centerfielder then had to scoop up the fly ball double and throw to cut-man Jason Kipnis. The throw home was too late to cut down Zobrist and allowed Russell to advance to third. Two runs scored on the misplay, putting the Indians in a deep hole. Willson Contreras finally flew out to right-center field, and Naquin made the play to end the inning with the Cubs up 3-0.

After trading perfect frames with Arrieta in the second, Tomlin – who walked just 1.03  batter per nine innings this season – walked Schwarber to lead off the third. Bryant then lifted a fly ball to right-center field and Chisenhall again cut in front of Naquin, this time making the catch, causing the center fielder to bail at the last second and fall to the ground. At this point, Naquin was visibly upset and could be seen complaining to veteran and de facto team captain Jason Kipnis, who was also in the area. Back-to-back singles by Rizzo and Zobrist once again would spell the end of  Tomlin’s night, as Terry Francona climbed the dugout steps and called for righty Dan Otero to face Addison Russell with the bases jammed and one out. After falling behind 2-0, Otero threw a 90 mph sinker and Russell launched it:

The grand salami put the Cubs up 7-0. Otero would quickly put things back on track, forcing Contreras to ground out and Jason Heyward to pop out to short to end the frame.

Arrieta – who had cruised through the first three innings – allowed just one walk and struck out five Cleveland batters while his teammates padded the lead. Kipnis broke up the no hitter with a leadoff double in the fourth, and Mike Napoli drove him home with a single. Arrieta also received assistance from his right fielder on the well-struck line drive by Jose Ramirez:

In the fourth inning, the righty displayed some of his wilder tendencies as he hit Chisenhall with a pitch, then walked Coco Crisp, before striking out Tyler Naquin to hold the score at 7-1.

Danny Salazar replaced Otero in the fourth and threw a perfect inning, striking out two, but allowed a leadoff single to Bryant to start the fifth. The third baseman scampered to second on a pitch to the backstop, but that’s where he would stay. Rizzo hit a pop up in foul territory to the third base side and Jose Ramirez made a nice play on the ball near the stands, retiring the slugger. Then Salazar struck out Zobrist and Russell to end the Cubs’ threat.

Arrieta struck out Roberto Perez to begin the bottom of the fifth and forced Carlos Santana to pop out to first. Jason Kipnis then launched his second playoff homer into the stands, giving the Indians some hope. But Lindor was then retired via a grounder to first to end the inning with the score 7-2 Cubs.

In the bottom of the seventh inning Maddon went to closer Aroldis Chapman despite being up 7-2 and seven outs away from the win. In his defense, there were men on first and second, and one of Cleveland’s best hitters was at the plate in Francisco Lindor – but it was a curious move given the margin of the lead and the likely need for Chapman tonight in Game Seven. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Lindor grounded a ball to Rizzo and Chapman had to cover first – appearing to jam his leg when stepping on the bag. The play was close, reviewed, and ruled as an out. The inning was over, and the lead preserved, 7-2. Chapman went on to induce a double play to close out the bottom of the eighth, with Javier Baez turning a low feed from Russell into two outs:

Following an eighth inning in which he also coaxed a twin killing, Mike Clevinger came on to work his second frame of the night for the Tribe. He retired Fowler and Schwarber on six pitches, looking to quickly bring the Cleveland bats back on the field. Then Bryant hit a single to left and Rizzo hit a bomb to into the right field stands, giving Chicago a seven-run lead. Clevinger then walked Zobrist before inducing a force out from Russell to end the threat.

After the Rizzo homer, Joe Maddon decided it was a good idea to rouse Pedro Strop so that Aroldis Chapman would not have to pitch 2 ⅓ innings, and would be ready for tomorrow night’s game. But Chapman came out to start the ninth as Strop was not ready. Brandon Guyer walked on five pitches and then Maddon ambled on out of the dugout to retrieve his closer and signaled for the righty reliever. Strop forced Rajai Davis to fly out to center. A wild pitch allowed Guyer to advance to second and Roberto Perez stroke a single down the first-base line that scored the base runner. However, Perez got greedy:

There was no need to attempt to take an extra base when down six runs, but instincts – bad instincts – kicked in and Perez went for it. Carlos Santana then walked on four pitches and Strop was lifted in favor of Travis Wood. Finally, Kipnis was retired on two pitches, popping out to shortstop to send the World Series to Game Seven.

Game Seven will feature Kyle Hendricks starting for the Cubs and Corey Kluber going for the Indians. Kluber has already won two games, but the starters don’t matter much as it will be all hands on deck. Any signs of weakness, loss of control or velocity – or anything the manager doesn’t like –  and they’ll be going to the next best pitcher they have. Expect to see Terry Francona call for Andrew Miller at the very first sight of trouble, and since the lefty hasn’t pitched in three days, don’t be surprised to see him go well over 40 pitches. Expect Cubs’ starters Jon Lester and John Lackey to be available out of the bullpen, if necessary: One way or another, history will be made.


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Featured image courtesy of Associated Press.

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